Walmart is increasing the use of its voice commerce capabilities by acquiring selected assets from voice technology startup Botmock for an undisclosed amount. Cheryl Ainoia, Senior Vice President of Retail Services / Emerging Technology at Walmart, announced this on Monday (November 1st) in a LinkedIn post.
“Today, customers are busier than ever and are looking for easy ways to quickly get in touch with Walmart whenever they need us. We see one of the easiest and most natural ways for customers to do this through voice and chat. Because of this, we have developed and deployed several conversation experiences and plan to introduce even more, ”said Ainoia.
Walmart did not respond to requests for additional information about the business. Launched in 2017 in Ottawa, Canada, Botmock works on speech technology applications with clients in 30 countries. It’s unclear if any of the botmock executives will become Walmart or if they just sold tech equipment.
She said the acquisition will accelerate Walmart’s conversational platform as botmock technology enables users to design, test, and deploy conversational applications on multiple platforms. She said the botmock no-code platform will enable designers, retailers and customer service teams to create chat and intelligent assistant experiences. Ainoia says building seamless interactions for voice or conversational chat is a difficult design issue and Walmart is working to mitigate those challenges.
“For example, if a customer uses their voice to create their weekly shopping cart, they could say, ‘Add milk to my shopping cart.’ The right action and reaction to the customer will depend on several factors including whether the customer has bought milk in the past, what type of milk they prefer (e.g. 2% or non-fat, etc.), has they already? some sort of milk in their cart, and if so, we should ask if they want to change the amount or let them know they already have it in their cart, ”she explained.
She said that talking options would take months to build to deploy under the current system, but Walmart believes that by adding botmock’s technology, it can provide conversational experiences in a matter of days.
The move follows Walmart, which enables voice shopping through Google and Siri and internal use of the Ask Sam app that employees use to solve problems in stores and clubs. Walmart said it will continue to improve the recently announced text-to-shop services.
“I’m excited about the many opportunities to integrate Botmock’s technology into our current conversation platform. The addition of this technology will not only help us create more customer service opportunities, it will also help reduce time to market and reduce our costs. Stay tuned for more exciting things in the area, ”said Ainoia.
Steve Wiideman, Senior Search Strategist at Wiideman Consulting Group, told Talk Business & Politics in April that language trading is a wide open frontier. He said Walmart is behind Amazon in this area. He said Think Tank Review 42 recently reported that 20% of mobile searches are using voice search, nearly 40 million Americans own smart speakers, and 58% have used voice search to find information about a local business. The report also said that 72% of people who use voice search devices claim that technology has become a part of their daily routine. In March, Review 42 said 43% of smart speaker owners are using the technology to shop.